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Russia says time running out for talks with US over New START Treaty

Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov at a news conference in Moscow on August 5, 2019. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)
September 23, 2020

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Russia says it hasn’t given the United States any new deadlines in talks over the New START treaty, the last remaining bilateral nuclear-arms pact, but there can’t be any pause in discussions, as time is running out.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on September 22 that Moscow saw the chances of extending the treaty as minimal, given the conditions being laid out by Washington.

The United States has said it wants any new nuclear arms-control treaty to cover all types of warheads, stronger verification and transparency measures, and bring China on board, a move Beijing has rejected.

Ryabkov called the U.S. preconditions “too far-fetched and devoid of appealing elements.”

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Ryabkov spoke after Marshall Billingslea, the U.S. special presidential envoy for arms control, told the Kommersant newspaper that Moscow must accept a joint agreement with Washington on extending the treaty before the U.S. presidential election in November.

“I suspect that after President [Donald] Trump wins reelection, if Russia has not taken up our offer, that the price of admission, as we would say in the United States, goes up,” Billingslea said.

Ryabkov said that position constituted an ultimatum and lowered the chances of reaching any kind of agreement to extend the treaty.

Russia has said it is ready to extend the New START treaty without preconditions and warned there is not enough time to renegotiate a complicated new treaty.

New START, which caps the number of deployed long-range nuclear warheads each country can have, expires in February unless the two sides agree to extend it for five years.

Several rounds of talks between the two countries over the summer took place with no breakthrough on a possible extension of the treaty.